Parental alienation occurs when one parent, the alienating parent, attempts to create a relationship with the children that excludes the other parent from their lives. Often this exclusion arises from that parent’s personal feelings about the other parent and their desire to punish them, and it is not related to any real deficiencies in their parenting. In alienation cases, one parent makes negative comments about the other capable and loving parent and strives to destroy any relationship the children may have with him or her. These alienating parents not only fail to encourage and support a positive relationship between their children and the other parent, but they essentially brainwash the children into disproportionately and unjustifiably rejecting the other parent.
The problem with parental alienation is it can work. Often, children will get to the point in which they refuse visitation or any contact at all with the target parent and express only negative feelings about that parent. Sometimes this is because the children believe the negative things they hear about the other parent, they’re unable to act against the alienating parent, or they enjoy the attention they receive for complying with the alienating parent. Parental alienation is a very separate issue from not wanting contact with a parent who is physically, emotionally, or sexually abusive.
If you believe you are being alienated from your children or your relationship with your children is being negatively impacted by the other parent, there are resources available to help identify alienation and repair the parent-child relationship. Our attorneys are experienced in parental-alienation cases and have the tools necessary to reunite you with your children.
Court Orders and Violations
On the application of the alienated parent, a request can be made to the court to make an emergency order to stop abusive contact between the alienating parent and child. This request can include specific injunctions against abusive behaviors pending a full hearing. When adhered to, these orders can be beneficial. However, those who engage in parental alienation don’t tend to play by the rules. It is, therefore, imperative that parents know what their options are for protection and enforcement of their parental rights.
Temporary Restraining Orders
Temporary Restraining Orders can be issued to prohibit the alienating parent from contacting or exercising possession of the child. The benefit of a Temporary Restraining Order is that it can be obtained rather quickly and provide a brief measure of safety to the alienated child and rejected parent while more information about the severity of the situation is obtained. The court may later implement additional orders and restrictions at a temporary orders hearing or final trial.
Violations of Court Orders
In Texas, a court may find someone in contempt if it discovers that a parent violated orders (e.g., orders to submit an evaluation, refrain from engaging in certain negative behaviors, or turn a child over to the other parent). The range of punishments available to the court include fines, orders for attorney fees, the posting of a bond to secure compliance with the order of the court.
Clear, specific, and enforceable custody orders that prevent parental alienation from continuing are required because the alienating parent is often manipulative, fails to follow court orders, or is simply unwilling or unable to refrain from their alienating behaviors. Vigilant and consistent enforcement of custody orders is a critical element of legal representation for a parent who is the victim of parental alienation.